Smile Politely

Bracket breakdown: Sweet 16 of Smile Politely’s Food & Drink Tournament

Side by side photos of Rick's Bakery tres leches and Maize taco al pastor
Rick’s Bakery tres leches and Maize taco al pastor; Photos by Alyssa Buckley

After hard-fought battles in the first round, half of the 32 foods and drinks in Smile Politely’s Food & Drink Tournament have been eliminated. Knocking out underdogs, most top seeds dominated their first matchups: The Space’s Smashy McSmashface, tres leches at Rick’s Bakery, Maize’s taco al pastor, BakeLab’s croissants, and Smith Burger Co’s Glazed and Confused all won their rounds. Reigning tournament champ Black Dog’s burnt ends destroyed their competition with an impressive 60 percentage-point lead in the matchup.

Baldarotta’s Porketta & Sicilian Sausage’s namesake sandwich (7) handedly triumphed over Art Mart’s pumpkin cookie (10). Additionally, Riggs Hefeweizen, Old Orchard’s thin-crust pizza, and Cheese & Crackers’ Mindy’s Italian sandwich also succeeded over their lower-seeded opponents. Some food fights were extraordinarily close. The French toast at Sam’s Cafe (1) narrowly defeated Central Illinois Bakehouse’s croughnuts (16), and Manolo’s Spotted Goat pizza (5) only just barely won over the hand-cut chips at Farren’s Pub (12). In a tight back-and-forth between Watson’s slushie (8) and Papa Del’s Sicilian pizza (9), Watson’s had the final high score, moving the chicken shack’s slushie to the next round.

An NCAA tournament style bracket on white backdrop
Smile Politely

First Round Upsets

Lower-seed The Bread Company’s goat cheese croquettes (14) defeated Esquire Lounge’s pineapple margarita (3), and it was a well-deserved win for jambalaya at Southern restaurant Neil St. Blues (9) over Golden Harbor’s signature crispy tofu (8). In a surprising but sweet conclusion to a beer versus brownie battle, Suzu’s Bakery’s miso brownie (13) beat Triptych’s legendary Dank Meme (4).

Five Sweet 16 Round Matchups to Watch

As SP’s resident tournament analyst, I think there are five games in the next 16 round sure to be heated, delicious, must-watch matchups in a stiff competition of winners versus winners. Watch out for the Urbana head-to-heads: Manolo’s pizza (5) will battle Riggs’ beer (6) this round, and Baldarotta’s namesake sando (7) will take on their division’s second seed: BakeLab croissants.

I’m going to bite all my fingernails off watching the battle between Rick’s Bakery tres leches (7) and Maize’s taco al pastor (2). I love both these foods so very much, and though it’s an impossible choice, I am rooting for cake because in my little opinion, it’s the best cake in the whole world. The last two rounds to watch are the Downtown Champaign restaurants battles. The Space’s Smashy McSmashface will be up against Watson’s slushie, and Black Dog’s burnt ends will compete against the Glazed and Confused burger by Smith Burger Co. As awesome as the slush and burnt ends are, I so badly want to see a burger battle in the Elite 8.

Vote for the Food & Drink Tournament’s Sweet 16.

Voting for the Sweet 16 round ends on Sunday, March 24th at 5 p.m.

Food + Drink Editor / / instagram

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